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By Posted on 0 19

A sitar owned and played by George Harrison has been sold for $62,500 (£46,581) in the United States.

The instrument, purchased from a shop on London’s Oxford Street in 1965, was used by Harrison during the recording of the Beatles song Norwegian Wood. The Indian string instrument, crafted by a well-known music shop in Kolkata, was later gifted to a friend of Harrison’s first wife, Patti Boyd.

The name of the successful bidder has not been disclosed by the auctioneers.

Bidding for the sitar began on 28 September at $50,000 (£37,327).

George had discovered the sitar in 1965, on the set of the Beatles’ second film, Help.

His love affair with oriental mysticism first became known in Norwegian Wood, John Lennon’s tale of an extra-marital fling. Acoustic guitar and muted bass were augmented by the Indian instrument.

“We’d recorded the Norwegian Wood backing track and it needed something. We would usually start looking through the cupboard to see if we could come up with something, a new sound, and I picked the sitar up – it was just lying around; I hadn’t really figured out what to do with it,” Harrison was quoted as saying in The Beatles Anthologies. “It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked.”

Next year, George gifted the sitar to George Drummond, a friend of Boyd, during the couple’s honeymoon in Barbados.







The Beatles recorded Norwegian Wood – the first Western rock band to use the sitar on a commercial recording – in October 1965, heralding a short lived “raga-rock” genre.

A year later, George travelled to India to learn how to play the instrument under the renowned sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. In an interview with the BBC’s Mark Tully in April 2000, Shankar said when he first heard Harrison playing the sitar in Norwegian Wood, he was not impressed. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said, “it sounded so strange. Just imagine some Indian villager trying to play the violin when you know what it should sound like.”

George later agreed, saying the sitar on Norwegian Wood was “very rudimentary”.”I didn’t know how to tune it properly, and it was a very cheap sitar to begin with. But that was the environment in the band, everybody was very open to bringing in new ideas.”









By Posted on 0 11

The orchestral works of George Martin will be released on a new album, George Martin: The Film Scores and Original Orchestral Compositions, November 10th via Atlas Realisations/Pias Classics. A limited edition double vinyl LP will be available in January 2018.

Conductor Craig Leon and the Berlin Music Ensemble recorded the album at the Meistersaal in Emil Berliner Studios in Berlin. The LP will feature the music Martin penned for films like Yellow Submarine and Live and Let Die, as well as his previously unrecorded choral and orchestral score for The Mission. It will also include new versions of the overture Martin wrote for a 1988 album version of the famous British radio drama Under Milk Wood, as well as his Three American Sketches suite for violin and chamber orchestra and other previously unreleased original compositions.

A short documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, including footage of Leon conducting the Berlin Music Ensemble through Martin’s Live and Let Die score and “The Pepperland Suite” from Yellow Submarine. Leon said he decided to put together the George Martin project after finding the producer’s original composition manuscripts.

“When I was going through it, I was just struck by the elegance of the composition and how much they fit the era that I grew up in music, and again made me think how much I wouldn’t have even had the life I had if George Martin hadn’t done what he did,” Leon said. “He bridged the gap between an interpretive producer and a creative producer, which was the thing that I wanted to do.” (Like Martin, Leon has worked in both classical and rock, producing records for the Ramones, Blondie, Suicide and more).

Martin, who produced much of the Beatles’ catalog, died in 2016 at the age of 90.


By Posted on 0 8

Billy Hatton, who has died aged 76, was the bass player and harmony singer with the Fourmost, the Liverpool beat group signed in 1963 with the Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s NEMS company.

Their first hits, Hello Little Girl and I’m In Love, released later that year, were produced by George Martin and written by John and Paul. Hatton’s relationship with John was strained, however, as he had stopped the Beatle from beating up the Cavern Club’s DJ Bob Wooler at Paul ’s 21st birthday party. “Lennon deserved a smack, no doubt about that,” Hatton said, “but someone shouted out: ‘Billy, if you hit him, your career will be over!’”

The Fourmost made the Top 10 in April 1964 with the up-tempo A Little Loving, then had a record-breaking run, from June to December that year, in the Startime revue at the London Palladium with Tommy Cooper, Cilla Black and Frankie Vaughan, and appeared in the film Ferry Cross the Mersey (1965). Three further singles made the Top 40, and their versatility was showcased on the album First and Fourmost (1965). The group’s promotion of their cover of the Four Tops’ Baby I Need Your Loving on Ready Steady Go! was helped when an enthusiastic fan made a grab at Hatton on live TV.

Son of Harry, a fireman, and Alice, Hatton was born in a terraced house in the Dingle area of Liverpool. In kindergarten, his playmates were Ronnie Wycherley (later Billy Fury) and Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr). During his teens, Hatton and Wycherley played guitars together and he encouraged Wycherley to write songs and to perform. “He was a sexy sod, wasn’t he?” recalled Hatton, “He would walk into a party and all the girls would turn into blobs of oil. I was lucky to be with him.”

Hatton himself sang and played the guitar in a country band and then with the Four Jays. In 1962 they were Epstein’s second choice to sign, after the Beatles, but there were problems. Their lead singer and guitarist, Brian O’Hara, was studying accountancy; the rhythm guitarist, Mike Millward, worked for a solicitor; the drummer, Dave Lovelady, had his sights on being an architect; and Hatton was serving an apprenticeship with the Atomic Energy Authority in Cheshire. They were regarded as the brainiest group on Merseyside and they did not want to throw away their prospects for the slim chance of a hit record. For the time being, they remained on Merseyside and played in their spare time. “We never wanted to just stand there and sing,” said Hatton, and they developed a fast-moving act which included comedy routines and a lengthy version of September in the Rain, packed with impersonations. The Beatles had them as special guests for their fan club night at the Cavern in April 1962.

Once the NEMS artists were having hit records, Epstein approached the Four Jays again. By then, both O’Hara and Hatton had passed their examinations and they turned fully professional as musicians, securing a record contract with Parlophone. Wooler suggested a name change to the Fourmost.
For all their early success, Hatton lacked confidence and in his private life he never wanted responsibility. He recognised this as a flaw and said he regretted not marrying his onetime girlfriend, Nicky Stevens, singer with the pop group Brotherhood of Man.In later years Hatton mostly worked as a security officer on Merseyside but he often played with Dave Lovelady and Joey Bower as Clouds and later the Original Fourmost. In 2008, they lost a court case to a tribute band calling themselves the Fourmost. “We made those records, we established the name,” Hatton railed. “Doesn’t that count for anything?”

He was a popular figure in Liverpool, especially in the Roscoe Head, the pub he called his office. His final television appearance was with the Hairy Bikers in their Liverpool episode of The Pubs That Built Britain (2016). “I’ve had a good life,” Hatton told me. “I never thought I would even get on TV with my spikey nose.” He is survived by his sister, Ada.

• William Henry Hatton, guitarist and singer, born 9 June 1941; died 19 September 2017




By Posted on 0 10



A Hard Day’s Night

Save Us
Can’t Buy Me Love
Letting Go
Drive My Car
Let Me Roll It
I’ve Got a Feeling
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

Maybe I’m Amazed
I’ve Just Seen a Face
In Spite of All the Danger
You Won’t See Me
Love Me Do

And I Love Her
Here Today
Queenie Eye

Lady Madonna
Eleanor Rigby

I Wanna Be Your Man
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!

A Day in the Life
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be

Live and Let Die

Hey Jude


Day Tripper
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers

Carry That Weight
The End